16So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Mat 20:)
On a clean, white sheet of paper I would like you to draw a line from one end of the paper to the other (leave about an inch margin on each side of the line).
Now, about an inch or two below this line draw another line just like the first. Be sure to leave room between the lines for some writing. And yes, you will be graded on your work.
Do you have your picture? Very good, now do the same thing an equal distance from your second line. When you're finished you should have three parallel lines. Do you have it? Good. Now to label the lines (the art portion of this lesson is completed. Now we move into a more advanced class of writing. Can you write? Very good, then we will proceed):
Directly above the second line write "Other religions."
And finally, above the last line write "Christianity."
Did you make your letters nice and even? Are they legible? Very good. Give yourself an "A" for this portion of the lesson.
On the other side of the line, which would be the right side of the paper (actually the left, but it's on your right hand) scribe a "100 " (which stands for 100%, 100 fold, full house, that's all there is folks). Got it? Very good. Wasn't that fun? Isn't the 100 fold the place you hope to find yourself? Isn't the 100 percent, the top of the line, what you're sacrificing for? I thought so.
I assume you voted for using the second method, am I correct?
Now, about the middle of the line write the words "Active, helping others, wanting to make a difference in this world, willing to share with those without, feeding the starving and the needy." Ah oh. Looks like we're going to need a bigger paper yet. Or maybe we can get away with just writing "Active" instead of all those words. Got it? Very good.
Now, on the far right side of the line write the words: "Sacrificial, cares greatly about the hurts and needs of others, will give their all to help those in need. Cries to see an injured mouse." Have you got that? You must have chosen a very big piece of paper. Want something shorter? Maybe the word "Sacrificial" will suffice.
Now that you have the picture completed I would like for you to consider the last word you wrote. Consider Jesus. Consider what you know of Him. Who was Jesus? What did Jesus do? How did He feel about people in general? How did He feel about the Father? How did He serve His Father and His fellow man? How active was He in what He saw as His job and His responsibilities? How well did He know and understand the Word of God? How much effort do you suppose He applied to gaining this knowledge? (Remember the 12 year old boy in the Temple?)
Using the picture you have drawn above, find the place that most fits your own experience. Where do you think you would place yourself in the scheme of God's plan? With a green marker place a dot on your drawing where you see yourself. Write over that dot "Where I see me."
Now, with a blue marker place a dot where you think your family, your friends, and your church sees you. Write over that dot "Others see me."
Now again, with a purple marker make a dot where your worst enemy might see you. Be honest now. I know you believe, and maybe correctly so, that you have no enemies and that everybody loves you. But search yourself to see if there might be one single person from long time past who thought ill of you and place the mark where that person might see you. Now write over the dot "Where enemy sees me."
How closely do the marks align? I suppose they're pretty close to one another, are thy not?
2. Using a blue marker, highlight the areas you feel you have recognized as needing work, and that you are working with the Lord to overcome those shortcomings.
3. With a green marker highlight the areas that you now recognize you need work with but haven't yet decided to work on them. Keep in mind that awareness of a problem is the first step to overcoming the problem. Blindness to our problems only cause the problems to fester and effect us in ways we are unaware of, such as anger and depression. Once these areas of deficiency are identified, get down on your knees and ask the Lord to help you overcome these areas and to point out other areas of your life He finds offensive. The more sincere you are with this endeavor, the more effective will be your labor to overcome the problem.
4. When you read the Bible or when you listen to a sermon, stay in tune to what God is saying to you. Try to discover if there are hints and messages you have missed because you felt satisfied with your standing with the Lord and therefore you felt no need to hear what you considered good advice for others, but that you had grown beyond the need for growth
5. Be aware that as one problem is overcome, or is in the process of overcoming, others that were hidden from view will materialize. It's natural to feel we are falling behind when we are growing. When no effort is put out, then nothing is expected. But once we strive for the mark of the high calling, nothing short of perfection will do. The more we grow, the better we become, the farther away that mark (which mark is the similitude of Jesus) seems to be.
Progress is in the struggle, not in the achievement.
Now, there is just one more thing I want you to do before I grade you on your work. I want you to play god. Adam and Eve were told that by partaking of the fruit of the tree of good and evil they could become as gods knowing good and evil. We have no problem knowing and practicing evil. It's recognizing and practicing the good that is our problem. Adam and Eve hid from their problems, their failures and their shortcomings. They didn't want to deal with them, so they tried to pretend they didn't exist and that God wouldn't see them (the sins) hiding behind their excuses and their fig leaf cover of religiosity.
In one regard the serpent was correct, we can be as gods. And in fact we must be as gods if we are going to please God our Father. By this I mean there's an attribute of God we must apply to ourself so God won't have to do so Himself. The attribute is that of judging. We will be judged. But if we judge ourself, then God won't have to judge us. If we don't judge ourself, then we stand under God's judgement, and His condemnation.
Take a look at the drawing you've made. Now, take a red marking pen and draw a line across all three lines where you, as god, would desire those you were to spend eternity with to reside. At this stage do not consider Christianity as a priority. What you're looking for is the quality of a person, not their beliefs. Keep in mind the Narrow Gate Jesus spoke of. Only a very few are going to make it through the gate. Have you drawn your line? It wasn't an easy decision to make, was it? I thought not. I've been struggling with that line for some time, and I still am. I keep wanting to bring the line closer to the dot that represents me and my friends. I wish more people would consider that line, and that more preachers would preach that line. My opinion is that the churches teach a line far too distant from the line God has drawn.
We also assume that many people in the active part of the Christian line will not make it because, although they are sincere in their efforts, and their heart is in the right place, they are following the wrong shepherd.
And far on the right hand side of the Christian line we have those who are struggling to do everything they can to be just like Jesus. And as Paul said, they are even willing to allow their body to be burned for Jesus, or they have performed many wonderful works, yet they still fall short of what is needed to be with the Lord. This brings the line of acceptance very far to the right hand side of the last line, wouldn't you say?
Have you got it? Now, take a close look at your drawing. Where does the dot that represents you stand in relationship to the circle you just made? Do you want to get any closer to that circle? Or are you content with where you see yourself now?
Now, with the eraser part of your pencil, erase the far right leg of the A you gave yourself. Why such a low grade you may ask. Because of this:
10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Rom 3:)
23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Rom 3:)
We are going to fall short. That is not even a part of the equation. The question we must ask ourself is, not if we will fall short, nor if it matters if we fall short; but just how far short are we going to fall.
Have you made a decision?
14Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. 15Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: 16Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. 17Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. 18And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. (Isaiah 28:)
23Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (Luke 13:)
12Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. 13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mat 7:)
16So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Mat 20:)
13Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14For many are called, but few are chosen. (Mat 22:)
27But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. (Luke 13:)
24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:)
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